THE new chief executive of the RSPCA’s recent comments about the management of the charity under a now Malmesbury Town Council member, has sparked an online petition appealing for his resignation from the role.

Jeremy Cooper spoke out against the direction the charity took under councillor Gavin Grant, of Malmesbury Town Council, who was the last person to hold the position.

Cllr Grant’s time in charge of the animal charity was marred with controversy as he pursued illegal hunts in the Cotswolds, spending £330,000 to mount the first and only prosecution against a hunt for breaking the Hunting Act.

Speaking to the Telegraph Mr Cooper said: “We have made mistakes. We have to be honest about that. We have to admit that and acknowledge that.

“The important thing when you make mistakes is what you do about it.”

He went on to say that the RSPCA will move away from partisan issues such as the badger cull, which he said has alienated many farmers.

“We are going to be a lot less political,” continued Mr Cooper.

“It doesn't mean we won't stand up for animals. But we are not a political organisation.

“People may have had the perception we were becoming an animal rights organisation. It is not the reality now and it won't be in the future.

“My style of advocacy is encouragement and dialogue. The [previous] leadership was too adversarial.

“If you want to shout and use rhetoric that's fine, but it isn't helpful to anybody. It is not going to 'make friends and influence people'. People won't like you for it.”

Mr Cooper’s comments have led to an online petition to be set up by Penny Little, the Gloucestershire hunt monitor who monitors hunts in the Cotswolds, calling for him to leave the role.

The petition argues that the new leadership stance has “betrayed” the principles of the animal charity.

Cllr Grant, who is an active member of the Liberal Democrats, did want to comment of the accusations however said that his time at the RSPCA was “ancient history” to him and that he enjoyed his time there.